Edgewater Casino reconsidering its Plaza of Nations lease
The Edgewater Casino may continue taking bets at Vancouver’s Plaza of Nations beyond 2013.
Las Vegas–based operator Paragon Gaming is negotiating with property owner Canadian Metropolitan Properties for a lease extension.
“We are in contact with CMP,” Paragon spokesperson Tamara Hicks told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview. This comes despite the fact that Paragon previously indicated it might close Edgewater if a proposal to relocate the casino to a site near B.C. Place was rejected by city council.
In a letter dated March 14, 2011, Paragon representative John Cahill told council that the casino’s future at the Plaza of Nations “beyond February, 2013 is uncertain”.
On April 19, 2011, council approved an application by the provincially owned B.C. Pavilion Corporation to rezone 777 Pacific Boulevard, adjacent to B.C. Place, for a mixed-use entertainment complex. That was to include two hotels and a casino.
The site, which is yet to be built, was intended to serve as the new home of Edgewater. However, council rejected the proposed expansion of the casino to 150 gaming tables and 1,500 slot machines. It currently has 65 tables and 493 slots.
CMP senior vice president Daisen Gee-Wing confirmed that talks are taking place between his company and Paragon. “They [Paragon] said they weren’t going to renew, but they’ve asked for one and we’re negotiating with them,” Gee-Wing told the Straight in a phone interview.
Although Edgewater may be able to stay at the Plaza of Nations a little longer, it will have to find another home in the next few years.
Last month, James K. M. Cheng Architects Inc. applied to the City of Vancouver on behalf of CMP for rezoning of the four-hectare-plus Plaza of Nations at 750 Pacific Boulevard. CMP wants to create a mixed-use development on the waterfront property that would include condo towers of up to 30 storeys. It plans to build a total of 2,000 residential units.
According to Gee-Wing, the development will provide plenty of public space, including a community centre. The company would also put in a hockey arena to be shared by the public and the Vancouver Canucks, who would use it for practices.
Unlike a number of large-scale rezoning applications that local neighbourhoods have opposed, the CMP application enjoys the support of the False Creek Residents Association. The group also backed a proposal by Aquilini Development and Construction to build three market-rental towers of 32, 28, and 24 storeys around Rogers Arena. Council approved the project on July 19.
FCRA cochair Patsy McMillan explained that her group has had numerous discussions with CMP and Aquilini about local amenities that would accompany their developments.
“Those are things that are really important to the community,” McMillan told the Straight in a phone interview. “We know that there is density coming.” She recalled that in October 2009, council endorsed the further development of Northeast False Creek. This included providing 1.8 million square feet of job space and four million square feet of residential floor space.
The CMP proposal for the Plaza of Nations involves 1.4 million square feet of residential space, 350,000 square feet for commercial use, and a community centre with 69 child-care spaces.
Although council approved a new casino location at B.C. Place, False Creek resident Sean Bickerton doubts that Paragon will be able to move there.
Bickerton, a former candidate for Vancouver city council, said the company may not have the funds to go ahead. He was referring to media reports in April of this year that the River Cree Resort and Casino in Alberta, which Paragon co-owns, could face bankruptcy after defaulting on a $111-million debt.
“I don’t think the company is solid enough financially to do the deal unless the [B.C.] Lottery Corporation gives them the money,” Bickerton told the Straight by phone.
Paragon’s Hicks countered that Bickerton has been “misinformed”.
But she also revealed that Paragon is looking at “various opportunities throughout Metro Vancouver”, and not just the B.C. Place site, saying: “Once we’re ready to announce that, we will let you know.”